BJ Churnside and Bret Bonanni combined for seven goals and Drew Holland recorded a career-high 17 saves to lead the second-ranked Stanford men's water polo team to a 12-6 victory over No. 9 UC Irvine in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation contest at Avery Aquatic Center on Saturday.
The Cardinal (1-0 MPSF, 11-1 overall) travels to play a nonconference match at UC Davis on Sunday.
Churnside scored four times and Bonanni added three for Stanford, which is off to its best start since it opened 19-1 in 2009.
Stanford, which had scored 20 or more in eight of its first 11 games, had to wait a little longer that normal to get on the board. Churnside scored the only goals of the first quarter at 3:55 and 1:02 to give his team a 2-0 lead after the opening eight minutes.
"We hit a lot of posts and took some early shots, but I think we kept the tempo of the game," Churnside said. "Defensively we were fine. We were in control the whole time."
Some impressive work from Holland in the cage is what led to Stanford's first goal. The sophomore shut down a penalty shot from Lovre Milos, the conference's leading scorer, before Churnside converted his 6-on-5 opportunity. Another Holland save led to a break for Churnside, which set up the Cardinal's second goal late in the first.
"Drew is definitely a main leader for our defense," Churnside said. "It's great to have him in the cage keeping us pumped up at all times. He always reminds us that defense in the most important part of any game. If our opponent doesn't score then we're going to win."
Holland's 17 stops eclipsed the 16 he had in the MPSF quarterfinal last Nov. 29 against Long Beach State.
"We've always been an offensively-minded team because we have a lot of great shooters on the outside," Churnside said. "We played well defensively, but need to continue to improve; keep tempo with our defense, listen to our goalie, listen to our 2-meter guard and make it our top priority."
The Cardinal plays No. 4 USC on Saturday, Oct. 18 at 10:30 a.m. and will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.
Top-ranked Stanford remained undefeated on the season following Saturday night's 25-22, 25-19, 29-27 win over visiting Oregon State (12-3, 2-2 Pac-12).
The Cardinal (14-0, 4-0 Pac-12) is off to its best start since 2007 and remains undefeated all-time against the Beavers (57-0).
Stanford matched the program's fourth-best start ever, with the 2010 team. The Cardinal started 17-0 in 2007, 20-0 in 1994 and a record 27-0 in 1991.
Junior outside hitter Jordan Burgess led Stanford with 14 kills on a .314 hitting percentage. Junior middle blocker Inky Ajanaku added 13 kills on a .400 hitting percentage, while redshirt freshman middle blocker Merete Lutz hit a career high .714 (11-1-14).
Senior libero Kyle Gilbert posted a season high 22 digs in the match to anchor the Cardinal defense. Junior setter Madi Bugg finished with her fourth double-double of the season, registering 43 assists and 13 digs.
Junior outside hitter Brittany Howard added six kills and 14 digs, while senior opposite Morgan Boukather tallied five kills.
Stanford hits the road next week for a pair of matches against top-25 conference opponents. The Cardinal will face No. 14 Arizona in Tucson on Friday at 8 p.m. PT and No. 17 Arizona State in Tempe on Sunday at 11 a.m. PT. Both matches will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.
In her highly-anticipated collegiate debut, Stanford freshman Elise Cranny captured the Washington Invitational cross-country meet Saturday and led the Cardinal women to a second-place finish.
Cranny, the reigning U.S. junior national cross-country champion, was patient before making a decisive move over the final 1,000 meters to win the 6-kilometer race (3.73 miles) in 20:11 at Jefferson Park Golf Course. Cranny's pace was 5:25 per mile.
No. 4-ranked Stanford was second with 55 points, trailing only No. 3 Oregon's 48.
Emma Fisher (20:42), Sophie Chase (20:44), and Rebecca Mehra (20:47) finished together in 10th through 12th , and freshmen Abbie McNulty (20:58) and Claire Howlett (21:00) placed 21st and 24th in their first collegiate races to complete the Cardinal's top five.
The No. 6 Stanford men, paced by Garrett Sweatt's eighth-place finish, were third behind No. 2 Northern Arizona (62) and No. 21 UCLA (72).
Sweatt, having the best race of his collegiate career, covered the 8-kilometer (4.97-mile) course in 23:40. A junior biology major who hopes for a career in cancer research, Sweatt was Stanford's No. 6 runner at the 2013 NCAA Championships. Behind him were Jack Keelan (14th, 23:45), Michael Atchoo (18th, 23:49), Sam Wharton (23rd, 24:02), and Cameron Miller (29th, 24:11) among the team's top five.
In both races, Stanford did not use its full squads by plan and because of injury concerns, choosing to run several of its top runners last week at the Stanford Invitational instead. The Wisconsin Invitational on Oct. 18 will be a closer proximity to Stanford's best teams, and the Pac-12 Championships on Oct. 31 may be the first chance for Stanford to run at full strength.
Coach Chris Miltenberg's plan for Cranny was to stay with the main pack and remain patient as it dwindled, and then make a move down the final stretch.
Indeed, Cranny followed the plan to perfection to win by seven seconds over runner-up Melanie Townsend of Northern Arizona.
Cranny, the fourth-place finisher in the 1,500 meters at the IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships this summer, certainly had the speed to pull it off.
"We talked about being patient," said Miltenberg, Stanford's Franklin P. Johnson Director of Track and Field. "In high school, she had limited opportunities to run in a pack. This is about getting experience and learning more about her.
"I wouldn't say I'm surprised, I knew she could do it. It was just a great sign of where she's at. She's handled all the expectations really well -- the biggest expectations are the ones she puts upon herself. The important thing is to set goals in things that we can control."
The Stanford women followed the same theme of patience, moving up in the field the entire race while closing the gap on Oregon at every split.
For the Cardinal men, the plan was to run together and work through the field without having the benefit of All-Americans like Korolev and the Rosas leading the way. In an NCAA Championship race, the rest of the team will have to find its own way, and that was the experience this race was supposed to simulate.
"I was thrilled with the way they executed the plan," Miltenberg said. "If we're going to be good, we can't get hung up on individual places. It's a reflection of a culture here that's turning toward great individuals running for team success."
Taylor Davidson and Carol Zhao will play for a doubles crown on Sunday at the Riviera ITA All-American Championships in Pacific Palisades.
Davidson and Zhao downed a familiar conference foe, sixth-seeded Giuliana Olmos and Zoe Scandalis of USC, 7-6 (5), 6-2.
The sophomore duo will face Clemson's seventh-seeded pairing of Beatrice Gumulya and Jessy Rompies in Sunday's doubles final.
Davidson and Zhao are looking to become Stanford's first doubles champion at the event since 2011, when Mallory Burdette and Nicole Gibbs defeated Florida's Allie Will and Sofie Oyen 6-2, 7-6 (2).